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Fired from the dental practice? This is how to best use your free time

Many dental hygienists and dental assistants are currently finding themselves out of work due to the coronavirus. Whether you’ve been fired from your position to cut down on your employer’s costs or you’re in self-isolation to help reduce the spread of the virus, now is a fantastic time to reflect on your career, assess where you want to be in the future and create a plan to get you there.

Reflect on your current position

Being in a professional transitional period gives you the perfect opportunity to review your career and where you’re headed. If you’ve always worked for a single practice as an employee of a dentist, are you happy with your situation? While working this way is great for others, some would prefer a little extra freedom and control in their lives.

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If you’d like to take charge of your professional life, consider becoming an independent contractor dental hygienist. When you sign up as a freelance dental hygienist with Cloud Dentistry, you control where you work, when you work and for how much you work. The power’s in your hands.

For even more control over your career, consider going one step further and opening your own dental practice. There are currently 42 states which have authorized direct access care between patients and dental hygienists. If you’re licensed in one of the approved states, you’re free to go ahead and open your own practice.

However you decide to progress in your career as a dental hygienist, there’s never been a better time to research your options and determine the route you need to follow to get to where you want to be.

Online courses

One great way to increase your market value during this time is to take online courses. The following courses are all free, 100% online and will provide you with additional skills dental practice owners value, setting you apart from the competition when it’s time to get your next job.

Emerging respiratory viruses: methods for detection, prevention, response and control

The world was hugely affected by SARS in 2003, MERS in 2012 and COVID-19 in 2019. This means it’s very likely you’ll see another virus outbreak during your career in dental hygiene. One way to brush up on your virus knowledge and help make yourself invaluable for the next virus outbreak is to take the World Health Organization’s Respiratory Viruses course.

Dental practice owners working with temporary staff are already prioritizing dental hygienists and assistants who have experience working during an outbreak and extensive knowledge of infection control standards in dentistry. Give yourself something new to add onto your resume and impress potential employers by taking the course.

Implant dentistry

Implant dentistry is one of the most rapidly-developing sectors of oral health. Despite its increase in popularity, the number of courses available in dental schools is very limited. If you want to get ahead of the competition, sign up for the free Implant Dentistry course created by the Faculty of Dentistry HKU.

The course has a strong clinical focus and is designed for students to learn the fundamentals of implant dentistry, understand the protocols and treatment procedures, and apply the knowledge gained through peer- and case-based learning. Out of all the students who took the course, 35% reported a tangible career benefit and 24% received a pay increase or promotion. 

Mindfulness for wellbeing and peak performance

Be the best dental hygienist you can be by improving your conduct in the dental practice with this Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance course. The program encourages you to:

  • Identify the causes of stress in your life.
  • Try different mindfulness techniques.
  • Find the right techniques which work for you.
  • Determine how mindfulness will impact your life.
  • Discover the value of creating a mindfulness journal.
  • Create a mindful approach to work, study and life.

Create a professional online presence

If you’re already working as an independent contractor dental hygienist or you’re thinking of becoming one, learning how to create a professional online brand to attract future clients is an excellent skill. In the course Creating a Professional Online Presence, you’ll:

  • Discover why it’s important to have a professional online presence.
  • Find out how potential employers view your online presence.
  • Determine the best online platform for your needs.
  • Identify various communication strategies with different formats and platforms.
  • Learn how to develop and maintain your professional online presence.

Essential skills for your career development

The Essential Skills for Your Career Development course is another programme perfect for dental hygienists considering the freelance route. The course is designed to help you take charge of your career and identify the skills to need to achieve your goals. Modules include:

  • The modern landscape of careers.
  • Identifying your career roadmap through vision boards.
  • How to set goals.
  • Understanding value propositions.
  • How to develop a professional network.
  • Building relationships.
  • How to deal with change and always being ready to learn.

How to succeed at: interviews

Job interviews are something almost everyone struggles with. Sign up for the How to Succeed at: Interviews course to make the right impression and win over the interviewer at your next professional meeting. The program covers everything you need to ace an interview, including:

  • How to deal with nerves.
  • The practical details of an interview.
  • Research to do before.
  • Anticipating key questions.
  • Making a positive first impression.
  • Wearing the right clothes.
  • How best to use your voice.
  • Getting to grips with interview questions.
  • Top questions to ask the interviewer.
  • How to handle different types of interviews.
  • Telephone and video interviews.
  • Giving presentations.
  • How to succeed at tests and exercises.
  • Leaving a positive impression.

Keep your license up-to-date

To keep your RDH status and be legally allowed to practice, you need to renew your dental hygienist license every 1-3 years. To do this, you need to complete the required number of ongoing educational hours determined by your state. These are typically:

  • 10-20 hours for each 1 year cycle.
  • 30-50 hours for each 2 year cycle.
  • 60 hours for each 3 year cycle.

Now is a brilliant time to make use of all the spare hours you have and use them to keep your license up-to-date. You can choose which online courses count toward your ongoing educational hours. To help add to your list of skills, consider courses on subjects which you know very little about. Or to stand out from other candidates, choose courses on topics which few others have completed.

Complete a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene

Increase your professional options by completing a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene. As an RDH, you’ve already obtained your associate degree to work in a dental practice. This means you can complete a bachelor’s degree in just 15-18 months as part of a degree-completion program.

There are many bachelor’s degree courses in dental hygiene you can complete 100% online. While requirements vary by course, most require a GPA of 2.5+ in subjects such as sociology, chemistry, biology and anatomy.

Bachelor’s degrees are ideal for dental hygienists who want to develop their knowledge of research and theory or learn leadership skills. When you complete it, you’ll be able to take on an educational role helping prepare dental students for the work field or work for pharmacy companies. 

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Complete a master’s degree in dental hygiene

If you’ve already got a bachelor’s degree, consider developing it into a master’s degree in dental hygiene. A master’s degree will expand your career options even further to prestigious roles such as oral disease prevention specialist, dental hygiene program director, laboratory instructor, educational researcher or leader of a dental health program. Master’s degrees take 1 year to complete in full-time education or 2-3 years to complete in part-time education. Many of them are available to do entirely online

To be eligible for a master’s degree program, you need a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene, a GPA of 3.0+, an up-to-date dental hygienist license, acceptable scores on the GRE, letters of recommendation and a career statement or current resume.

Make the most of this time

While it’s easy to be lazy at this time and do as little as possible, that behavior is only going to have a negative impact on your professional future. Instead, take advantage of this time, be productive and increase your market value. You’ll feel a lot better about yourself and will have more optimistic career prospects when the world gets back to normal.